Using our documents
Colchester City Council publishes documents in a range of formats, including:
- Microsoft Word
- Microsoft Excel spreadsheets
- CSV (Comma-Separated Values)
We want as many people as possible to be able to use those documents. For example, when we produce a document we aim to:
- provide an HTML option where possible
- tag headings and other parts of the document properly, so screen readers can understand the page structure
- make sure we include alt text alongside non-decorative images, so people who cannot see them understand what they are there for
- avoid using tables, except when we are presenting data
- write in plain English
How accessible our documents are
New documents we publish and documents you need to download or fill in to access one of the services we provide should be fully accessible.
However, we know that some of our older documents (published before 23 September 2018) are not accessible. For example, some of them:
- contain photocopies of text and are not marked up in a way that allows screen reader users to understand them
- are not tagged up properly – for example, they do not contain proper headings or alt text for non-decorative images
- are not written in plain English
- contain images without a textual description
- include complex tables
This most commonly applies to our:
- corporate reports
- research and analysis reports
- policies written before September 2018
- strategies written before September 2018
Many of these documents are exempt from the regulations, so we do not currently have any plans to make them accessible.
If you need to access information in one of these document types, you can contact us and ask for an alternative format.
What to do if you cannot use one of our documents
If you need to access information in one of these document types, you can contact us and ask for an alternative format. It will help us if you tell us what assistive technology you use.
Reporting accessibility problems with one of our documents
We are always looking to improve the accessibility of our documents. If you find any problems that are not listed on this page or if you think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, contact our online team.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (the ‘accessibility regulations’). If you’re not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).
Technical information about the accessibility of our documents
We are committed to making our documents accessible, in line with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.
The documents we publish are partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances listed below.
The content listed below is non-accessible for the following reasons.
Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations
Success criterion 1.1.1: non-text content
Some of our documents have images, diagrams and/or tables. Some of these do not have a text alternative, so the information in them isn’t available to people using a screen reader. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content).
We plan to add text alternatives for images, diagrams and tables. We will ensure they meet accessibility standards.
Success criterion 1.3.1: info and relationships
Some of our documents don’t identify headings, lists or data tables correctly. This means users using screen readers may not be able to follow the structure of a document, which in turn may affect their ability to access and understand the information. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (info and relationships).
We plan to ensure all our documents have a correct structure so that they are accessible to users using assistive technologies.
Success criterion 1.3.3: sensory characteristics
Some of our documents use sensory characteristics, such as colour, shape, or size, to convey information. This means users with visual access needs may not be able to understand the information. This doesn’t meet the WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.3 (sensory characteristics).
We plan to ensure that our documents will not rely solely on sensory characteristics to convey information.
Success criterion 1.4.5: images of text
Some of our documents and pages contain images of text to convey information, rather than plain text. This means users who either use a text-only browser or use assistive technology may not be able to understand the image of text. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.5 (images of text).
We plan to ensure that none of our documents and pages use images of text to convey information only.
Success criterion 2.4.4: link purpose (in context)
Some links in our documents do not contain context in the link text. This makes it hard for users using assistive technology to understand what the link is for, and where they would be directed to if they clicked on it. This doesn’t meet the WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.4 (link purpose (in context)).
We plan to give all our links context so that their purpose can be determined from the link text.
Success criterion 4.1.2: name, role, value
Some of our documents are not structured properly. This means they may not be accessible for users using screen readers or other assistive technology. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2.
We plan to give our documents a proper structure so that users using screen readers or other assistive technology can access them.
Documents produced by third parties
Some of the documents we publish are produced by third parties, for example, some policies. We are not always able to make these fully compliant, for example adding alternative text to images or diagrams. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content).
We are informing third party suppliers of our accessibility requirements, but sometimes we must publish documents at short notice that are not accessible. Where possible, we will fix these as soon as we can.
Content that is not within the scope of the accessibility regulations
Some of our older documents don’t meet accessibility standards. For example, they:
- do not contain alternative text for diagrams and/or images – this does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1
- use images of text, rather than plain text – this does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.5
- are not structured properly – this does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2
The accessibility regulations do not require us to fix PDFs or other documents published before 23 September 2018 if they’re not essential to providing our services.
Any new PDFs or Word documents we publish will meet accessibility standards. Sometimes we must publish documents at short notice that are not accessible. Where possible, we will fix these as soon as we can. We may not make some documents accessible if, after performing an assessment, we find that doing so would impose a disproportionate burden on Colchester City Council.
How we tested our documents
We tested a sample of our documents in November and December 2020. The test was carried out by Colchester City Council’s Online Team.
- PDF documents
- Microsoft Excel documents
We decided to test these types of documents as they are the main non-HTML formats published by Colchester City Council.
What we are doing to improve accessibility
- updating corporate Word and PDF templates to be accessible
- publishing content in HTML by default where possible, rather than PDF
- providing CSV alternatives to Excel spreadsheets, and improving the way we structure these type of files
- raising awareness and improving accessibility skills across the Council
- testing publications with assistive technology software users
We will continue to review and update this policy as our work progresses.
This page was first prepared on 15 April 2021.
Page last reviewed: 24 November 2022